- The Washington Times - Friday, June 14, 2019

The Washington Capitals traded defenseman Matt Niskanen to the Philadelphia Flyers for defenseman Radko Gudas, the team announced Friday.

Niskanen, 32, played the last five seasons for the Capitals and was a steady presence in the top four defensemen, though his performance dipped in 2018-19. In his 12-year career, he has a plus-97 rating with 64 goals, 259 assists and 289 takeaways.

Niskanen was due $5.75 million for each of the final two years of his contract with Washington, making him a potential target for a cap-saving trade.

“We would like to thank Matt for all of his contributions to our organization for the past five seasons,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement. “Matt is a consummate professional and was a big part of our success. We wish him and his family all the best moving forward. We feel this move provides us with financial flexibility as we look for additional ways to strengthen our team.”

In return, the Capitals get back another right-shot defenseman in Gudas, a 29-year-old from the Czech Republic. Gudas has one year and $3.35 million left on his contract, and the Flyers retained 30 percent of his deal, so the trade saved Washington a total of $3.405 million.

Unlike Niskanen, Gudas is more of a third-pair blueliner. Last season for Philadelphia, he averaged 17:53 time on ice per game and amassed four goals and 16 assists.

“We are pleased to welcome Radko to our organization,” MacLellan said. “Radko is a good defensive defenseman that plays a competitive, physical game.”

The Capitals needed some cap space to pursue as many of their pending free agent wingers as they wish to retain. In addition to restricted free agent Jakub Vrana, who is due for a long-term or bridge deal this summer, the likes of Brett Connolly, Andre Burakovsky, Carl Hagelin, Devante Smith-Pelly and Chandler Stephenson are all UFAs or RFAs this offseason.

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